Nightly News   |  March 18, 2013

Giving kids the vision to succeed

Children across the country have poor eyesight – but some don’t have proper vision care and never get the glasses they need. An organization called Vision to Learn is changing that, helping thousands of Los Angeles schoolchildren see clearly. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight here we have an uplifting making a difference report. from los angeles where things are looking a lot better for a lot of kids. that's because of the efforts of some caring folks helping kids whose families can't afford the eyeglasses they need, giving them a chance to see and learn and thrive. our making a difference report tonight from nbc's miguel amaguer.

>> reporter: for these kids, this bus is a sight for sore eyes. an eye clinic on wheels built by vision to learn that provides free eyeglasses for students in low-income communities. fifth grader dina ventura hasn't seen clearly since kindergarten. dina is one of 34 students getting tested at her school. statistics show up to 15% of all children in elementary schools need glasses. educators say 80% of school work depends on seeing a blackboard or reading a book. many children have problems with their vision.

>> a lot of times they'll zone out in class because they can't see what's going on or they don't fully understand what's being taught.

>> reporter: for vision to learn, the solution is clear. after testing the students, the children's prescriptions are sent here. employees measure, polish and grind out every set of custom lenses. each pair of glasses costs about $100 to make. but for the student, they're free.

>> every child should have the tools they need to be successful, including those tools are glasses.

>> reporter: austin butner founded vision to learn.

>> we're taking kids in school and giving them a chance to learn.

>> reporter: one by one, the room comes into focus.

>> how excited are you?

>> really, really excited.

>> reporter: an excitement that resonates with butner every time he gives them the gift of sight.

>> their eyes glow and they're seeing a different world around them.

>> reporter: a world of possibilities and a clear future ahead for these children. nbc news, los angeles .

>> great story to end on